How to acquire a digital mindset?

As I am preparing my first course on Digital Marketing Strategy, I am forming the idea that a strategy is all very well and super important, but not enough: businesses really need to have a digital mindset if they seek to succeed in their digital endeavours.

The book “Digital Strategy: Integrating strategy and tactics with values” by Ira Kaufman and Chris Horton very clearly explains the role of values in creating an adequate digital mindset. A digital mindset is in fact the key to a business’ integration into the digital culture…The key to digital transformation.

But what IS a digital mindset then?

This video interview, I think, goes a long way in explaining it. It really made an impression on me and is worth seeing.

Penny Power (amazing name, right?) here explains that

Having a digital mindset means being Open, Random & Supportive”

So there goes, according to Penny: be social, unplanned and caring, and you’ll merge perfectly in the digital world. It’s easier said than done, of course, and most people will struggle with at least one aspect of the digital mindset triad (I know I am the opposite of random, like Penny), but I am a big advocate of meaningful strategies in marketing, and this is the message of this video for me.

What if you don’t care for your digital network and stakeholders?

If you cannot or won’t help them solve their issues?

If you cannot reinvent yourself in the face of an ever-changing environment?

Being open, random, and supportive, or at least trying to, should be a constant effort to support a successful digital strategy. What do you think ?

Have a great 2016!

PS: Follow Penny, Ira and Chris for further insight on digital marketing strategies.

Supermarket fascination

I can no longer hide from it: I love supermarkets. They can be big or small (although, the bigger, the more fascinating), specialised or mainstream, busy or quiet, located in any country or continent…I love them all. I happily go around a supermarket ten times, pass the same section over and over again, and, in the end, spend 30 minutes to buy 5 items.

I think my obsession has become more prominent since I moved in the UK, where retail stores are very well implanted and have developed really strong brands. Whether they like supermarkets or not, UK citizens cannot deny that Tesco, Sainsbury’s or Morisson have become real institutions. They are  on every street corner, offer a large range of services, and have very strong own labels. A recent study on brand love and hate in the UK shows that top retailers are all highly ranked in the top 50 of most loved brands. That’s food for thought.

What I enjoy most, is going to different supermarkets around the world and discovering the products that locals go crazy for. The size of the section dedicated to certain products is certainly indicative of local food preferences. Among my favourites.

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  • Olive oil and pasta in Italy (spotted this summer at my local holiday Bennet near Venice)
  • Cheese and “Hageslag” in The Netherlands (They are chocolaty granules and a true winner from my latest trip at an Albert Heijn; so random!)
  • Soy sauce in Asia (Oh the memories of living on top of an E-Mart!)
  • Baked beans and tea in the UK (Tesco…my midnight shopping love)
  • And then I guess Belgium would be big for its chocolate and beer sections? Let’s go for this…I’m sure Delhaize would support this claim.

Of course this all sounds very simplistic and stereotypical, … and it is in a way, because not all UK citizens are heavy bean eaters or all Italians swimming in seas of olive oil at every meal –Thank God.

However, I cannot help but be amazed by the selection of products in supermarkets, the way they are promoted and displayed, and how shops are indicative of the local culture.

Hopefully this slightly deranged view from a marketing geek reconciles you a bit with the much dreaded weekly trip to the store. I would love to know what products overload stores in your country, please share and enjoy your next grocery shopping trip!

Crazy China

After a few months of advanced ethnography of the Chinese population, let me summarise for you in a few points the cultural clash that us, expats in Shanghai, live every day…

Sustainability first 

Fact #1: Chinese people are environmentally friendly. Or not.

Everything is individually packaged, from toilet rolls to flowers. Here, if the streets are super clean it’s not because people are well educated like in The Netherlands, it’s because there is an army of street cleaners — who are payed close to nothing. Here, so long recycling! So long different-colour trash bags…everything ends up in the same bin.

Global marketing at its best

Fact #2: if its sounds western, it sells. At the supermarket you’ll have the chance to find a detergent named “Pigeon”, a brand of shampoo called “Sifoné”, or “Descente” apparel. Well, if it sells…After all, Superdry is a purely British brand that has nothing to do with Japan despite it’s heavy use of Japanese graphics and signs.


Fact #3: Chinese people have a mutant stomach.

For instance, we don’t really know if the picture here, taken at the supermarket downstairs, represents the weekly oil supply of a family or of a fried noodle shop….but we don’t really want to find out either.

Coagulated duck blood will find its way in your soup; you will be unable to find something that has not been fried, fried and re-fried (except, maybe, said duck blood) & chicken feet are by no means to be tossed: they are a sought-after snack. Oh and be ready to have a bowl of spicy noodles for breakfast, too.

I think I am in for a colonoscopy next time I come back to Europe. My stomach might already have mutated, though.

At the gym…

Fact #4: in China, sport is “casual”…

First of all, who needs trainers to exercise. Like the lady here, feel free to come to the gym in your high heels, that’s perfectly fine. Secondly, running is vulgar: one WALKS on a treadmill. It’s so much better to walk inside rather than in the polluted city. Then again, forget about gym gear: jeans and a button-down will do just fine.

Lastly, when you go into the lockers, ladies, take a deep breath. Intimacy and reserve are inexistent: when you get changed, you go all out and hang about naked as long as you need to. I have no visual proof I’m afraid…

Flawless style

Fact #5: Chinese people have taste.

They will tell you that you are the one dressing in a very boring way, but do take it as a compliment, because to them, fashion means:

  • Wearing Winnie the Pooh slippers in the tube (photo)
  • Going grocery shopping in a Mickey Mouse fleece pyjama
  • Matching a stripped shirt with polka dots trousers, Crocs and flowery gloves (what looks nice on its own, looks nice with anything!)
  • Wearing heels so high you can only walk like a duck
  • Having skirts so short that they are actually belts (I guess it’s to make up for the inability to wear low cuts…you make do with what you have)
  • Own a real Louis Vuitton bag when you make €400/month
  • Sport FAKE Vuitton bags, Prada glasses, Jimmy Choo shoes and a Guess belt…well, because the fake market is around the corner.

Here are a few pointers of what to expect if you plan on coming and visit in Shanghai. Those who’ve come already can testify. I also wanted to say a word about politeness, but I think I will need a whole post just for that. Freedom of speech could also be a theme, but I would not want my blog to be blocked by the government (there, I already said too much).

I hope you enjoyed the read and the glimpse into Chinese culture!